Hi--I love your columns and chat but was sorely disappointed at your response a couple of weeks ago, to a chatter concerned that his mom was making bad financial decisions that he feared would mean she'd want/need to live with him. What on Earth?? How many parents take their grown children in when they can't get jobs after graduation? After a divorce, or other financial troubles? How many lend their children money for down payments, help pay off debt, etc? Not to mention support through at least college? My mother did this for all 4 of her children, my Aunt for all 6 of hers--including having a daughter in law live with her whole her son worked in a foreign country. In Asian cultures, the concept of filial piety means we revere our elders, which includes taking care of them in their older years. Shame on your reader, and anyone who didn't take umbrage at how selfish he was being.
Color of Money 031413 - Advising on mother's finances
First, let's be clear about what I said, which didn't include telling the woman NOT to help her mother.
What I said was: I would not put your family out on a limb with a bigger house you might not be able to afford. However, you do need to have some serious conversations with your husband and any other siblings if you have any about where you mother might move if she can't afford to live on her own. Could you make room in your home? Could another sibling? Are there nearby apartments she can afford on her retirement income. Just keep talking to her and helping her explore all options, even ones she might not be comfortable with but don't include you putting your family's finances in jeopardy.
So I told that person not to make a bad financial move that could hurt her family financially. Because then how will that help the mother? If she drowns helping the mother, the mother goes down too.
How quick you judge. There wasn't anything selfish in what the reader said or asked.
Now as to your premise that children "owe" their parents for all that they've done. I believe you should be there for your parents and help as much as you can. But not because they did for you. That was their job! You can never pay back a good parent for all that he or she has done. That's way too much pressure and an agrument that a bad parent uses to guilt trip their kids. I was raised by my grandmother and would walk to the ends of the earth for her because she didn't have to take me in. But I did for her out of love and the scripture concept that you honor your mother and father. But that verse doesn't say do something financially stupid.
Futher there are a lot of triflin parents who make really bad, awful decisions that then put undue financial pressure on their adult children. And then try to guilt them into jeoparding their financial well-being. That's not what they should do in the name of honoring their parents.
In this case, I stick by what I said. Talk to the mother, talk to other siblings and try to find a plan that will help the mother and that could be moving in with the daughter in a cramped house. It could be helping her keep her independence by finding a roommate or moving closer and getting a smaller house or apartment.
Thank you so much Michelle for your advice two weeks ago about how to advise my mom on her finances as she nears forced retirement and is in somewhat dire straights. I shared your advice with her and am still working to convince her to pay down her $5K in credit card debt. Where should she pull money from to pay it down? She doesn't have enough in her checking/savings account, but has a couple CDs paying 1-3%, an IRA, an annuity, and some stocks. She will also get a small lump sum of cash upon retirement (for never using sick days), but will have to pay 20% taxes on it.
Color of Money 031413 - Advising on mother's finances
I so didn't plan this. But of course if follows the first question I posted. So thank you for letting me know how my advice turned out.
See talking works.
I would pull the money out from the pot with the less impact taxwise or penalty wise. So if the CDS haven't matured, don't pull it from there. Sounds like should come from the lump sum cash payout. She has to pay taxes regardless. But if that isn't enough I would go after the ready cash inthe CDs. She might lose some interest but it's probably a lot less than what she is paying in interest on the credit cards.
What do you recommend for couples getting married, both with good jobs, one pays much more. One joint account and two individual discretionary ones? An percentage or amount going into the joint? One joint account and no others? We're not sure what makes the most sense!
Since you asked me, I'll tell you what I recommend and what I do in my marriage of going on 21 years -- to the same man.
We have joint everything. We don't have any accounts with just one of our names on it.
All our pay goes into one joint saving and checking account. The money comes out of that for emergency fund, life happens fund, college saviings for our three kids, and our retirement planning outside of our individual workplace plans.
We just didn't want to deal with who pays want and what percentage, etc. The benefit is that it doesn't matter who makes more or less, etc. We are one financial unit. And rarely do we argue about money and when we do, it's my husband begging me to not to worry so much. But if you chose this method you have to talk. You have to plan. You have to share the same values. You have to love each other enough to trust each other. And typically only one of you is going to be the treasurer with the other looking in and being involved.
Emily you wrote: "Never before has our style of leadership been so needed, and never before have our choices been so vast and our opportunities so great."Â Can you expand on this?
Broadly speaking, women have a collaborative leadership style that aligns with what employees expect and want today. This, combined with the fact that we have more work choices than ever before, is a new playing field for us all.
Hi Michelle -- Last week, you ordered me to spend money on myself and to report back in. First, thank you: your advice had me on the edge of tears, so it clearly hit the spot. I don't know why it's so hard to let go of a dollar just for me, but it is. For my report: I can't say that I spent anything on me this week. That's because the "thing" that I want is a big thing. Like, say, upgrading to a "real" sportscar in 6-8 years, when I turn over my 4-door automatic grey generic mom-mobile to my daughter. It makes me feel guilty even to want so frivolous -- but then I realize that most guys I know would have already bought it, without even batting an eye! And why should they have all the fun? So here is what I have decided to do: I am going to open a new savings account called "fun money." And I am going to take part of any "extra" money we get (bonuses, etc.), and I am going to put it in that account, so that we have enough cash when the time comes. Of course, the question will still be if I can bring myself to spend it -- but at least I've got a few years to work on myself. :-)
I love this idea. Good for you and glad I could help let go of some of your hard-earned money for something fun.
So, has your daughter decided where to attend college in the fall? Did U-MD offer her any scholarship dollars?
We are still waiting on her financial aid award letters.
I'll definitely update you all. I will be so glad when this is over. So hard. I talk a good game but when your child is looking so sad that he or she may not get what he or she wants it's hard even though you know you have to make the right financial decision along with what's the best for him or her. Still, we will consider everything, including making sure we have the cash to pay for where she wants to go.
My partner and I live in GA--if Section 3 of DOMA is repealed can we get married in-say-DC live in GA and file combined Federal Income taxes ?
I'm not sure. Guess we will have to see what happens and what if any laws get changed or impacted.
I am new to this. Is it an ongoing chat or do you just view the questions?? I am not sure if I am on the right screen
Welcome my friend.
It's a live chat, meaning I'm right here live answering your question. So ask away if you have a question or just read along.
Emily, What are you thoughts about all the talk around "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg?
LOVE the discussion Sheryl has continued on this topic at the national level. I think she has some outstanding points in her book and I recommend it highly. (As as aside, I met Sheryl recently and wrote about it here ---> http://emilybennington.com/women-work/what-its-really-like-to-hang-with-sheryl-sandberg/)
I hate doing taxes and always seem to wait until April to begin. Sometimes, I think that I would actually pay more if the IRS would just send me a bill in the mail telling me how much I owe instead of having to go through the process myself. My employer, bank, and mortgage company all report numbers to the IRS, why couldn't they calculate it for me or at least send me the completed forms where I only have to enter any additional income or deductions.
I hear you. We are still working on our taxes (BTW Honey can you hurry up)
Maybe it is time for you to get someone else to do your taxes. As cheap as I am, I've come to appreciate how precious time is and how well worth the money to hire professionals.
I am very frugal by nature and have been aggressively paying down student loan debt (2x minimum payment). I am also able to contribute to my 401(k) and build up an emergency fund. What gets left out is I go out less often than most people. Part of me is ok with this and part of me thinks I could "lighten up" a little bit.... I am wrapping my head around the idea of scaling back loan payments (by $200 to $300/month) to have more play money each month. But, I get stuck on the idea that it will extend the life of the loan. I want to enjoy life to the fullest, but I also want this debt cleared as soon as possible.... I know you can't tell me what to do, but any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!
Don't scale back. Push ahead and get that monkey off your back. It's only for a season and then you can have much fun knowing that that fun isn't costing so much more.
Dear Michelle, thank you for taking my question. My brother's wife manages her family's business and their household finances as my brother, though a hard worker, lacks the capacity for such responsibilities. Although we are not in contact often, she hinted to me that things are not going well for them financially. There was nothing by way of expectation in her hint and she is a proud person who probably doesn't take advantage of govt programs that she "should" because she has a moral issue with accepting charity. No one in their household is starving or suffering. My instinct is to let her ask before I offer to help them, but ... I don't know ... I am a very frugal person and in the past I have seen her buy stuff that she doesn't need, so I feel as though I might be "holding out" in a way that I wouldn't if I felt that she had made good decisions in the past. What are your thoughts? I really value your opinion and wish you and yours a joyous Easter.
I love that you are listening. And her "hint" may have been a way to reach out.
So here's what I would do. Mention that you notice she said X. Then say: "Can I help in any way? I'm pretty good at budgeting and I might be able to give you some tips. I'm not saying you aren't (cuz people are quick to take offense) handing things well. Just know I'm here. But I understand if this is too personal, just thought I would offer."
See where that goes.
Or you might approach your brother if you have a good or decent relationship. Take the same tactic. I'm here to help just making sure you are okay.
Let me know how it goes.
So I get that woman may have some leadership skills that workers need, but what about the women leaders who lead as hard and mean as men. There are a lot out there. Are our styles really that different? Because I know a lot of unhappy people being lead by women. Just saying.
That's such an interesting question. For Who Says It's a Man's World I launched a survey where 750 professional women were asked, "If you could choose your boss based on gender, would you rather work for a male or a female?" The good news is that 56% of respondents just wanted a smart boss, but the bad news is that 44% of respondents would select a boss based on gender and men were chosen by a 3 to 1 margin. When you deep dive into why, three patterns emerged, i.e. respondents felt that men were more direct in their communications, less competitive, and less emotional. I talk about this topic a lot.
I take umbrage at the judgmental tone of that poster. Why should a child take on their parents' bad decisions? I can understand bad luck, absolutely. But willfully bad, repeatedly bad decisions? They made their bed, they can lie in it. If that includes bankruptcy, so be it.
I hear you but let's not jump on the other judgmental side either. Yes, parents make really bad decisions. But I also believe in compassion. Even those who make bad decisions deserve our help. Now how much help, that's another story. And given the history of the situation y0u may not be in the mental place to help. Still compassion should be your first go-to position.
I always remember to whom much is given, much is required.
First, listen to Michelle. Going out and doing things is more enjoyable when you're not worrying about what you "should" be using the money for. I save, my only debt is my mortgage, and when I treat myself, it's a $10 album off iTunes. But I don't worry about money. Second, maybe try redefining your definition of "going out." Two of my friends make less than I do, so going out all the time isn't an option. But coming over to my place to have coffee and talk for 3 hours is. Just as enjoyable as going to Starbucks, and a lot cheaper.
Thank you. Great advice, especially the part about listening to me.
Michelle What is the absolute worst a credit card company can do if you can't pay the bills and simply stop paying (to pay for the house over your head, the medical bills, etc). Can the credit card companies force you into bankruptcy, can they garnish wages, can they sue you and ultimately cause you to lose your home? What if the amount is over 100K in credit card debt?
Ok. I'm worried. I hope it's not more than $100,000 in credit card debt. But let's say it is.
They company can sue you depending on how old the debt is. And yes the company could get a judgment that might lead to money taken from your bank account or your paycheck. Depending on state law, could be attached up to a certain percentage of disposal income.
You don't want to get to that point.
So talk to the company to see if you can come up wtih a payment schedule. If you aren't getting anyway try going to www.debtadvice.org and seek the help of a nonprofit credit counselor.
(submitting early due to meeting) - thanks for such great information! Recently went to a seminar on trusts vs wills and am confused.....if I have a trust, do I still need a will? My aunt said she has a will but it won't go through probate, which sounds wrong. My live-in BF and I do not own property - just one car each and "stuff". We've named each other as beneficiary/POD on all accounts. Thanks, I know you don't provide legal advice....looking for the best way to distribute our money after we're gone and have most of it go to a person rather than the state.
Honestly, you really need to seek legal advice. But based on the little information I have you probably just need a simple will. So pay the money to have it done and done properly. Shouldn't cost much.
And just a word of caution, boyfriends and girlfriends come and go. I would not put a boyfriend or girlfriend at the POD on my retirements, accounts. Just saying. Often people break up and forget to change such things. Then the family doesn't have the money to bury the person or settle debts because the former boyfriend or girlfriend ain't so eager to give the family the money. I would keep money separate and if you want to leave that person something do it in a will.
But if you decide not to, as soon as you breakup, like that next hour, change everything.
I comment because I often hear people say "well, they carry XYZ Brand purse" and they could have spent that money in "what I feel are better ways" instead of this way or that way. I know that I received an expensive purse as a gift (and YES, I do carry it daily. I have for several years, since I was presented with it.) and when my husband was laid off, people in their judgment, did not want to help us (we did not ask) because they felt that if I could go out and spend several hundred dollars (they assumed) on a fancy purse, then we could do better with our money. (1) I did not spend a single penny on this purse. (2) I am not going to apologize for my gift. (3) I am not going to explain my gift to you. (4) He is still out of work, but working on getting a new position. Taking all kinds of tests and in the final stages of being gainfully employed again. I just hate that she is judging how they "spent" their money so she hesitates to help them out.
You really do make a good point. And I did notice that too. You can't really say what someone can afford until you peak deeply into their budgets. So you are right.
Now that I'm in my mid/late twenties and have acquired some financial stability, I finally did the grown up thing and opened up a Roth IRA (with Schwab). However, now I have $10k just sitting there, because I'm somewhat at a loss as to what's next and stressed I'm going to make the wrong decisions. Do you have any recommendations for books or online resources that can help guide me through the process? Most of the books I've come across seem aimed at avoiding or rectifying irresponsible financial behavior (which thankfully I have) or they're over my head.
If you mean you have the money just sitting in cash talk to an adviser at Schwab. Get them to help you figure out how to allocate the money. It's okay to pay some money to get professional advice.
Michelle, I know we need to make an appointment with a financial planner, but with two full time jobs, two kids, and a dearth of personal leave time to take the time off from our jobs, I can't figure out a way to get us to one in the next four months. In the meantime, I am painfully aware that we are not managing our money well. Do you know of any online tool we could use as a stand-in, until we get to a live planner? Thanks!
So if you can, find the time to call some planners and see if they make evening appointments. Many do. I know because I've met my planners after dinner late into the evening. I've met my planner on weekends. If can be done. Find one who will work with your tight schedule.
You can't *make* us be women interested in corporate domination. And this *is* billed as a "personal finance" discussion, not a "career advice" discussion.
Really? Make you?
This is a discussion about personal finance. That is true. But doesn't your career and or job have everything to do with your finances? It is not a stretch.
So if you don't have a career question or question for the guest, that's fine. I was just reminding those who may have skipped the intro that I have a guest. Like at any party, you want to include everyone in the conversation.
starting a new job Monday- moving from part-time to full-time and I'm very nervous about the switch. I'll be doing what I've been doing (financial planning and investment analysis) but on a bigger scale for my new boss. I know I can do the job but sometimes I'm my own worse enemy when it comes to confidence. Any words of wisdom as I start this new opportunity??
Remember the ONLY power the inner critic has is the power you give it by engaging with it. I have a video on this that will help you here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mENdcGwTvRk&feature=share&list=PLwqCQPziLLYO4GWErQxHhrLeq8FGNylAq
GA shouldn't get too excited. It's a misconception that married couples necessarily pay lower federal taxes, unless one partner has no income or a significantly lower income. Once their incomes are combined, they may find themselves in a higher tax bracket, whether they file jointly or as "married filing separately."
it's hard but sometimes you have to do it. My brothers and I just sat down with our mom about her money. All she has is social security- 1,300 a month, that's it. She was helping out our sister with her medical bills but would need money from my brothers every month. We finally made her talk b/c we had no idea what shape she was in and it was hard for my brothers to contribute (she wouldn't ask me b/c I'm married with kids) Found out she had so much credit card debt her interest payments alone were almost $800 That left her with only $500 for other bills and living expenses - she just couldn't do it. Long story short, we all sat down, found out all the bad and have come up with a plan to pay off the debt (the 3 of us are going to) and convinced our mom that she had to watch out for herself 1st
I'm so proud of you guys. Compassion and a plan. That's what I'm talking about.
Another thought (not to undermine Michelle) is to have $50 of fun every month rather than $200-$300 (!!!) worth of fun. For pity sakes, that's a car payment! Do you really want to blow that on drinks?
I don't think your suggestion undermines my advice. I don't see why she can't have low-cost fund and aggressively pay off the debt.
I had major surgery last fall and want to thank the three caregivers....two women in their 40's, one a senior, and myself, a senior. I'd thought about a cruise to the Caribbean, but one isn't interested. Any ideas. My budget is about $6,000 for the four of us.
Wow. What a gift.
So why don't the four of you get together and see what you might like to do together.
Or does it have to be something together?
Have you just considered a financial gift? I know we had a GREAT caregiver for my father-in-law. I really couldn't have cared for him so well without her. When he passed my husband and I gave her a financial gift because we knew it would take time for her to find other employment. She really needed the money. Just a thought.
It is a big if, but I would never offer a friend of mine who is sort of broke cash. She could use it, but would never take it and would be insulted beyond all measure. But a few hours of my time to help her with her taxes? She will take that. None of it is "easy." It is a burden to know someone's finances that intimately. It gives you a responsibility to keep your mouth shut. And for her it is a real loss of privacy. But it is worth it.
True. For many people it's hard to accept cash. In fact, my financial ministry is all about offering time to help people get their finances straight.
Hi Michelle - I'm so glad you're chatting with us weekly again! A question to wapo's financial expert about the paywall. I'm all for anything that keeps your paper afloat, but personally had to stop getting the paper version when I started my debt-elimination campaign ($65K from starting my own business, now down to around $50K after a year of spending NO money). I'm willing to pay monthly for the online version, but the $15-$20 I've heard is really high. So my question for you is: wouldn't it make more sense to charge something like $1.99 or so a month, and have 500,000 subscribers, than to charge $19.99 per month and have 50,000 subscribers? I'd really love to hear your opinion.
Wow. Not sure anything I say wouldn't seem bias.
I'm not sure where the paywall amount will come in at.
But I have to stay true to what I tell folks. Do what you can afford. However, once you get some financial freedom, I hope you see the worth in subscribing to get the great information I know I try to provide and others at the paper. And the paper has to pay me so I can take care of my family.
My mother passed away late last summer in New York. She died with a valid will naming my sister and me (her only children) as the sole heirs to her estate. She died with no assets (not even a car) except for a checking and savings account at a nationally-known bank. We do not believe, based on the final bank statements we saw, that she had more than $1,500 total between the two accounts at the time of her death (the bank will not tell us anything more, despite having seen a certified copy of the will and death certificate). Since she had no estate to speak of (and actually died in debt), we have no plans to go through the rigmarole of probate and have been advised by an attorney friend that it should not be necessary. However, this bank is insisting that we have to go through probate to be able to withdraw the remaining funds in her accounts and close them. My sister and I find this absolutely ridiculous. Thousands of people die every day, many with small estates not needing to go through probate, and they did not all keep their money in their mattresses. Might you have any recommendations for recourse we may have on this front? Dealing with this bank has been a nightmare but $1,5 00 to go toward some of her final expenses would be helpful and certainly worth pursuing. Thank you.
I've gone thu this quite a bit lately. Really probate isn't as crazy hard as you think. So just do it. You just have to file the will and some paperwork. It's worth it in my book to get the $1,500.
I haven't come across a good boss - and I've risen up the ranks and worked for dozens of people now. The only way I've found to succeed is to model the opposite of the behaviors I don't like - oblivious, selfish, narrow perspectives, conflict-avoiding, win-lose...the list goes on. I think that women (me included) are going to continue to struggle at least for another generation - being a minority in the leadership positions is going to continue to have its effects. in the meantime, we have to take the flack, but make sure to build your network (men and women). It's still networking that gets you into places. And after getting into a great job, don't forget to build the network w/ your uppers (I made that mistake recently). Even if you don't like them or they discriminate against you subtly.
Networking is huge. Aside from good work ethic, it was the #1 factor the c-level execs I've interviewed for Forbes, etc. cited in their own success.
Hi Emily, I need to read your book but I am curious about your thoughts on women that don't want to dominate the corporate world but just want to work. I like working, but I love spending time with my family and would like to ideally make the two work well together. I feel like I am judged sometimes for just wanting a job, not wanting to climb the ladder. What are your thoughts on not dominating the corporate ladder, but just working?
I actually think the subtitle of my book is misleading. (Shhh - don't tell the publisher.) It's really about finding harmony in your life and success on your terms. If you don't want to dominate - that's perfectly fine. My only advice is to ALWAYS make sure you can be financially independent if needed. Otherwise, it's all good.
HI MICHELLE i have been married to my husband for 19 years and I agree that pooling all funds is the best way to handle the household budget however... I just want to emphasize the importants of both parties being and staying on the same page with that arrangement because my husband and I started out this way and somewhere along the way he fell off the boat and narly sank us both! So just be careful!!!
Yup. Be careful and stay on the same page. You are absolutely right.
I haven't read your book yet so I apologize if my question is covered there. Any advice for how to push myself into a career path that offers more reward up the ladder (but more risk in terms of less secure position, longer hours, etc.) I'm in finance and got off track a few years ago when the kids were born. I'm the primary breadwinner in our family and settled for the stable, back office support role that offers great flexibility but no room to move up (at least not until someone retires in 10+ years), very little incentive comp, teeny tiny annual raise if at all. I'm bored, disappointed in what I do and am capable and have the skills to do more, but I worry about how a big change could impact my family. And, though I'm networking now to try to find something better, my current "dead-end" job isn't helping my prospects. How do I explain I took the working mommy track while the kids were babies and now want to get back in the fast lane?
Just like that but don't call it the 'mommy track.' Explain that you stepped back for a period while your kids were young but now you're ready for more responsibility and more opportunity. When interviewing for new positions, state that you're looking for new challenges and ways to add value NOT that you're looking for more money. You should negotiate for more money of course but potential employers will be more likely to hire you if you LEAD with the "fire in the belly." Also, if you can't find what you're looking for with your current company - start looking NOW.
i feel your pain on doing taxes! i'm also a cheap skate and hate to pay for something like that. this is def a case where shopping around and asking friends/yelp/review sites is a good thing. most cpas and h&r block quotes i received were in the $300-400 range. i found a mom & pop place that did it for $120 and efiled for us. got the refund 10 days later and couldn't be happier.
Good reason to shop around.
Hi there! I'm not a woman so I hope this won't come across as patronizing, but I hope that the book features tips on appropriate self-presentation. So many women I know? Do the Valley Girl "up-talk" thing? Where every statement sounds like a question? You know what? It makes you sound like you're doubting yourself? So please stop it? For your own sake? Thanks!!! PS My best managers have always been women so I really want you to succeed.
Okay ladies you heard the man.
I'm sorry but it's very difficult for me (as a woman) to take career advice from someone unknown to me based on that post. In that single narrative it mentions a blow-out, pedicures, new dresses, and spending $97 on make-up. I think it demonstrates a complete lack of awareness and understanding that you have to present yourself a certain way if you want anyone to take you seriously. It's one big exercise in gender stereotypes aimed to sell us a book. Yuck!
Easy there. That post was just my truth about what happened when I met someone I admire. I'm not pushing a book on you here today. I'm giving my time and offering career advice from a place of service.